Now that the January transfer window has come and gone, it's time to take stock of what Tottenham has on their squad. While other people perhaps judge players by international caps, goals, or anything else, as a member of the Playstation generation I judge all players off of the hypothetical FIFA ratings in my mind. But to just rank all the players in order would not tell the whole story, tiers exist within this team from the world-class players to the squad players. So using a formula defining a player's current class and future value, let's break down this team:
25. Carlo Cudicini
24. Jonathan Woodgate
23. Ledley King
Love all of these guys, but either by injury or age they seem to be reaching the end of their usefulness for Spurs. Ledley is the namesake of this blog and the greatest Tottenham player of the last decade, but it seems like his terrible knees have finally given out. Woodgate is perhaps the most talented defender we've had of this generation, but his own health calamities have made him too unreliable.
The Squad Players:
22. Bongani Khumalo
20. Jermaine Jenas
Inconsistency is the name of the game in this group. Khumalo is a mystery so far, he's been solid in what I've seen with the South African national team but I have no idea if he's ready for the EPL. Bassong has been up and down so far with Spurs, he has the physical tools to excel but his positioning and decisiveness has always been suspect. Jermaine Jenas is on a whole different level of inconsistency. He inspired this brilliant video, which you can see after the jump:
Jenas has been a mystery to Spurs fans, absolutely disappearing in matches. But to quote the video: "What about the 5-1 semifinal cup win against the Scum? He was like a hot knife through butter. He was the sex." His performances have done nothing to turn this viewpoint around, so he remains an enigma.
The Solid Performers:
19. Roman Pavlyuchenko
18. Wilson Palacios
17. Younes Kaboul
16. William Gallas
Love them or hate them, the guys give performances. Super Pav is likely on his way out, but what distinguishes him from our other strikers was that he was the guy who would finish when given that one crucial chance. Unfortunately he doesn't distribute or create his own shot all that well, but he has his use. Palacios seems to have lost a step and some of his passing touch, but as destroyers go he's still one of the Premiership's best.
Kaboul has been a revelation for Spurs since coming back for his second tour, turning some sterling composed performances at both right and center back. His injuries have set him to the trainer's room right now, but he could be a defensive catalyst going forward. The short term solution though has been Gallas, who has put in a yeoman's work in stabilizing the center of defense. He's definitely not the man he was in his prime Arsenal years, but his leadership and organization has helped a bad Spurs defense turn into...a decent Spurs defense.
15. Alan Hutton
14. Vedran Corluka
13. Steven Pienaar
11. Jermain Defoe
It seems like Redknapp, as well much of the fanbase, is confused whether Hutton or Corluka is the top right back around these days. They both bring different things to the table: Hutton is dynamic down the right flank and plays a lovely cross, while Corluka is a resolute defender who rarely gets caught out. Corluka's got the edge for me since he has the international pedigree, but if Hutton keeps improving, that could change quickly.
Pienaar has been quiet so far in joining Spurs, but he adds a nice dimension of pace and directness that Spurs can use. His twin Benoit has been a constant for Spurs this season, adding some needed stability to the defense. I think most can agree that he's by no means a fantastic talent, but he does work hard and can mark right wingers out on a regular basis.
Jermain Defoe has been dreadful this season a shadow of himself from last year. I'm of the mind to blame injury, and once he gets his form back he'll go back into being one of the best English strikers around, but right now his performance has him only average. Sandro got off to a slow start at White Hart Lane, adjusting from Brazil to the Premiership, but his recent performances have started to show his class. A skillful defensive midfielder perhaps not seen around Tottenham since Edgar Davids, Sandro could be a star in the future.
9. Peter Crouch
8. Tom Huddlestone
7. Heurelho Gomes
5. Niko Kranjcar
4. Aaron Lennon
Crouchinho is always going to have his haters. He can't he create his own goals off the dribble and he is not a class finisher. But the pure amount of work he does during the game has him highly regarded by me. His distribution has been outstanding this year and as we saw against Milan, he can wear down and break down defenders' concentration. THuddz was off to a fantastic start this year and was playing the best football of his career before he went down with injury. Arguably Spurs' best box-to-box midfielder since Michael Carrick left, Huddlestone's rocket right foot and improved distribution have him looking a key figure for the future.
Gomes, for all his criticism, is a fantastic shot-stopper and wins many more games than he loses. The man of the match versus Milan has the class to succeed in Europe, and if he can ever get a regular starting backline ahead of him, could help Spurs have the defensive success that has been long gone. But even more influential to defense has been Michael Dawson, who's been in fantastic form since returning from injury. Last year's player of the year is an excellent tackler, strong in the air, and a true team player. If Harry ever springs the cash to get him a top back to pair with him, Daws will shine even more.
I'm about as big of a Niko fan as there is around, so this ranking might shock some. But it's not his fault that perhaps the best young left midfielder in the world has his position occupied. Niko contains a class that only few on Spurs have, with the capability to score from anywhere. Harry would be foolish to move Niko for anything but top dollar, as the Croatian star is an elite talent.
When it comes to Lennon, one thing above all other: pace. When Lennon is on the pitch, it takes him getting on that one breakaway to take the game. He can absolutely pin left backs in and has a nice shot to go with him. Sure his defensive work rate is questionable and his cross isn't the best, but as the old saying goes, you can't teach fast.
The World Class:
3. Rafael van der Vaart
2. Gareth Bale
1. Luka Modric
The best new signing to the EPL this year, VdV has picked up the goal scoring slack that our strikers have let off. Playing the trequartista like he's Francesco Totti, Rafa has viciously attacked the goal. He's truly an all-around goal scorer, poaching, free kicks, and scoring from distance. Perhaps the only hole in his game is his inability to influence the game from wide, but Rafa has pushed Spurs to a new level.
Inter might want to give their entire war chest for Bale, but he's not the top Spurs player in my mind. Don't get me wrong, he's been fantastic and just might be the best left winger in the game today, but he just isn't as constantly influential as our number one player...
Which goes to Luka Modric. Luka has become the definition of the modern day #10, dropping deeper in the pitch to distribute and hold possession like no other. Just like Xavi in Barcelona, this type of play can go underappreciated, but the absolute class that Luka influences the game with makes him the number one player wearing the Lilywhite today.